Director - Engineering (Test)
Vaidyanathan Ramalingam is a member of:
The Journey: Early Days to How I Got Here
I am having overall 20+ years of experience primarily in Software Testing. My focused product testing experience is mostly from fortune 100 Technology MNC R&D Centres which includes Huawei, HP, Intel and Siemens Communication Software in Bangalore. Thus it has been a diversified work experience for me with Global Corporate/Culture with Multi-domains & locations.
My balanced focus throughout my career in technical and management aspects helped me leverage best of both. I feel the industry needs/demands more technical people against managers considering the business requirements and man power availability (supply).
Decisions That Mattered
I had different motivation & career aspirations at different times.
Being a testing professional one has to be good at both depth and
breadth of this domain along with defect finding attitude & quality
Depth comes from the testing domain experience (test
approaches/methods and tools/techniques), product-application-domain
knowledge and IT skills (OS, DB and H/w). The breadth is basically
exposure of PDCL/SDLC, Release Processes, Management Practices, and
Those who have consistently grown in depth of
test domain become Test Architects in Technical Ladder. Those who grew
in breadth of testing become test manager in Management Ladder. In my
case, I have mix of both and happened as per the business demand.
of the most valuable knowledge accumulations in my testing career have
been through, on-site experience, collaboration with customers/end
users, test project/program management, ODC set-up/transition of testing
work and taking up additional responsibilities/complex test
projects/solving quality specific challenges.
The Turning Points
The testers life is directly proportionate to the quality of the product/services offered by them to the success of their customers. I had faced several challenges and compromised on certain things--all along during my testing career to satisfy the customers and be assertive with stakeholders where I need to prove a point w.r.t. defects & faulty design. I strongly believe that more the value a tester shows to the project more the respect will come and thus can play as a virtual customers role within R&D.
Some of the challenges I have seen in my career includes less priority on regression/maintenance test Vs new feature tests, functional testing Vs non functional testing (performance, load and stress testing), manual testing Vs automated test etc. The point is I had to switch the game plan according to what is most important for the project/customers.
Work and Role: Then and Now
The job expectation from the Test/QA leadership position is techno-managerial. The focus is on both tactical (day to day testing-bread winner) and strategic (long term). The typical yearly goals consist of Test CoE, Organisation development, Innovation, task force, transformation activities like Agile/Lean/Test CoE, Competency Development, Quality enhancement, cycle time reduction etc.
The transition is moving from, managed by others to managing self and then managing others! So, in testing it starts with test cases execution then test cases development, automation, framework design & debug, strategies, guiding team, scaling up to higher standards, technology readiness, optimizing the resources, finally maximizing the QA/Test CoE values to the customers!
Two Years Down the Line
I see the typical trend from the industry on test leadership position is aligned with the expectations based on the product/services quality, user experience, time to market, delivered capabilities to end users/market, customer satisfaction and cost optimization. There are several pointers which are taken in to consideration every year to refine these Y-o-Y focus areas, which consist of both top to bottom and bottom up perspectives. In coming years the test community have to continue pay attention and leverage on continuous test innovation, testers mindset, competency development, agile/lean testing, cloud based QA approach, domain centric QA practices.
What I Learnt Along the Way
Passion, Testing Attitude and Quality focus are key success factors for the individuals success!
need to remember that where there is a code and human interaction;
there could be a bug/error! By taking timely actions and periodical
reviews one can avoid these errors.
These are the important lessons I have learnt in my professional life.
Changing Days: Lessons Learnt
Past: Quality control based test approach, reactive, no much tools/open sources/technology options available for effective testing.
Present: Quality assurance based test approach, pro-active, lots of CLI/GUI/API automation tools including integration with IDEs to have e2e framework to support coding->unit testing->build->test cases management->test execution->defect management->lab management->dashboard. Presently we have tools which can point out both forward and backwards from a particular stage in SDLC. So, we can trace from use cases all the way to defect as well as, from defect to the associated source code to de-bug including log/trace data along with snap shots (in case of GUI). Also testers need to know grey/white box testing and not simply mouse click based test approach!
Future: Value centric test approach (The value could be the trade off between Cost, Quality, Timeline and Features), Wider Test CoE adoptions.
Trends to Watch Out For
Those days mouse click based testing approach was perceived as testing and ad-hoc method, fair knowledge on process was sufficient considering the kind of scope was made available for testers. Today the situation is different considering the short life cycle of some of the products sold in market and higher expectation about security, user experience, off the shelf solutions need, time to market and domain centric testing model requires excellent testing eco system. Some of the observations about trends are, programming/scripting knowledge required from testers (earlier it was not); due to Agile maximum % of automation is becoming common to speed up testing during iterations, Lean concept is also getting in to testing as well (avoiding waste).
Another personal observation of mine from industry is "career saturation" time line (IT in general & not only for testing). Typically the saturation starts for the age group of 40+ and mostly it covers people with purely managerial functions, not good at P&L/ getting business from clients, not dynamic/aggressive leadership material or who have outdated with old technologies/approaches and competencies.
My Advice If You are Starting Out
I would rather say that independent of any domain, the testers need to learn and know about product/application domain, test methodologies,
tools, processes and resource utilisation (h/w, s/w and people). Depending on the organisation we work, customers to whom we serve and positional level we are today, we can appropriately improve on these focus areas. We need to continuously learn & utilise the networking opportunities from QA forums/conferences/portals like Silicon City QA etc.
Must Focus Areas For the Future
Agile Testing, Applying Lean concepts in QA, Emerging Test Approach like Hypothesis Based Testing (STAG Software), Model Based Testing (Conformig Tool), Script-less Automation (Qualitia s/w), Virtualization
for lab optimization and Cloud based test approaches are some of the known areas today. Depending on the product/application roadmap & end users requirement the testing/QA need the domain centric eco system
to maximize the value from QA.
Do We Need Certifications?
In my case I had opportunities for several internal certifications within the organization. But now-a-days several training, consulting companies and certification bodies provide boot camps, test certifications, several IT/Domain level courses and management/leadership programs.
Some of the popular testing certifications offered by: ISQT, ISTQB, Edista Testing Institute & Angus Technologies
Books/ Websites I Recommend
Book: Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams, By: Lisa Crispin, Janet Gregory
Book: Software Testing Techniques and Applications, By: Arun Kumar Khannur, ISQT International
Book: How we test software at Microsoft, By Alan Page, Ken Johnston, Bj Rollison, Microsoft Press, Woodpecker
Book: Delivering Successful Projects with TSP and Six Sigma: A Practical Guide to Implementing, By, Mukesh Jain, Principal Engineering Manager, Microsoft India
Books/videos/articles from global testing gurus, consultants & Contributors of Software Testing Qualification Board:
- Cem Kaner J.D., Ph.D. Professor of Software Engineering, Florida Institute of Technology, USA
- James Bach, Principal, Satisfice Inc, USA
- Rex Black President of RBCS, USA
You Tube: Videos from GTAC (Google Test Automation Conferences)
Last But Not Least
It is estimated that in India there are more than 1 lack testers, which is the largest pool of software testing community in the world! The software testing profession is continued to be one of the growth oriented job function and critical requirement for product development R&D/IT Services companies.